What sort of groups are schools in other countries in?

In the UK, some schools are part of a trust or a federation. These are distinct and it can be of interest if a school is part of some group or is under local authority control.

This has been tagged (mainly by me) with

But I have realised that these are not very global tags, however I don’t know much about how schools work in the rest of the world. I’ve noticed that the USA has school districts and I can imagine that the tagging could be translated to that quite easily.

I think it may be good to change the tagging to school:group, school:group:name and school:group:type (this is not a formal proposal for that yet).

Couldn’t this just be operator?

Academy trusts basically function as an operator, but federations can’t be tagged as such.

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In Canada every province and territory has its own education system. Within each province and territory there are school “authorities” of one name or another—they’re often called “boards of education”, “school districts”, “school divisions” or more recently in Quebec “school service centres”—that have a publicly-elected or government-appointed executive board that governs policies and funding for their respective areas. How these school boards (I’ll just use ‘boards’ for now, but the term encompasses ‘districts’ and ‘divisions’ too, they’re functionally the same) are divided across the provinces and territories varies considerably.

In Alberta, where I live, there are English-language “public” boards (originally protestant) and “separate” (Roman Catholic) boards, and entirely separate French-language equivalents. The English-language public boards administer the “public schools”, the English-language separate (/Catholic) boards administer the “Catholic schools”, the French-language boards administer both “public” (or “non-confessional”) and “Catholic” (“confessional”) schools (except for the south region of the province, where there are separate “separate” and “public” French boards). There are also “private schools”, which administer themselves and are often run on a for-profit basis, and “charter schools”, which are run independently of the school boards but are still “public” schools and are only allowed an annual quota of students.

In addition, there are “band-operated schools” run by First Nations/Métis bands (aboriginal governments) and a “federal school” run by the federal government for educating aboriginal children, over which the provincial government has no governing authority.

When it comes to OSM, functionally I see no point in making the distinction between any of these types of governance, beyond what the religion=*, operator=* and operator:type=* tags already provide.

Likewise, in the case of the UK form of governance, I don’t really see what benefit any new tags provide. I freely admit I obviously don’t know the intricacies of “federations”, but after reading the Wikipedia article you linked I fail to see how/why the operator=* tag would be insufficient, despite your assertion that “federations can’t be tagged as such”. Why not?

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Schools in the United States are quite similar to what @hoserab described in Canada, though I think we have a stricter separation of religious and public schools in the US. Religious schools here are usually administered by religious organizations, with little government intervention.

Public schools in the US typically belong to school districts that admit students within their boundaries. The size and nature of school districts varies wildly from state to state, but in most states, they’re special administrative divisions that operate independently from municipal and county-level governments. They’re governed by their own elected officials, and they levy their own taxes. Many districts also operate charter and magnet schools that serve students all over their coverage area.

In addition, most states directly operate a few public boarding schools to serve students of particular demographics statewide. Most states have boarding schools for the deaf and blind, sometimes combined into one campus. Some states also have specialized “early college” programs (e.g. for math and science) where high school students live and study at a public state-supported university campus. Alaska is full of isolated Native villages that are too small and too remote to support a secondary school, so they operate a boarding high school for Alaska Natives.

Private schools are often, but not always, operated by religious organizations. These schools do not receive tax money, and typically charge tuition. The Catholic church is probably the biggest institutional operator of private schools in the US, though Protestant, Jewish and Muslim schools exist as well, among others.

In either case, public or private, these governing bodies directly administer the schools. I think operator=* is sufficient in the United States to determine what “group” a particular school belongs to. Does this tag make sense for school trusts and federations?


There already 71,000 instances of de:strassenschluessel tag used for official German refs for streets. There is also hundreds of thousands of uses of regional source:maxspeed.

So why not use some tag value that includes UK like that?

Why not simply the universal brand= (if there’s a common name under the multi-academy trust) or network= (for federations)? Single academy trusts can stay in operator= or something.


For reference, you might want to have a look at the extensive list of school operators already collected in the Name Suggestion Index.

Why not simply the universal brand= (if there’s a common name under
the multi-academy trust)

Erk. When I think of brand I think of something corporate, commerical. A mega-corp with a “branding strategy”. Schools are supposed to be better than that. :grin:

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OSM doesn’t need to be confined to the exact implication. I say this because brand= is already used in education for a few university and college campuses. More governmental or public postal services viz USPS too, which is the 4th most numerous for this variation in https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/keys/brand#values itself. Down the list, there is the British Heart Foundation, and the US’s Veterans of Foreign Wars. Then there’s the Co-op Funeralcare, and the Navy Federal Credit Union.
It is easily applicable to for-profit private “schools” especially kindergarten / nursery schools / daycare, as well as elderly homes and hospitals. If a charity have a chain of shops (eg Salvation Army), it would still use brand=, regardless of the underlying purpose.
There doesn’t need to another word for the same concept purely for such impressions and connotations. The UK government does many business case, and business plans. It has branding and brand guidelines. Doesn’t mean it’s a company. The essence is it has a recognizable common name component shown to the public.

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The Netherlands schools can be divided in three categories: public schools, particular schools and private schools. The first two categories make up the large majority.

Public schools (openbare scholen)
Public schools were originally run directly by the national government or the municipality. Nowadays they are run by the municipalities, either directly or indirectly through a government agency or a foundation (stichting). These organisations can have multiple schools in multiple municipalities.

Particular schools (bijzondere scholen)
Particular schools are schools based on a religion or on a philosophy (like Montessori, Dalton, Jenaplan). Due to religious parties basically winning the school struggle, these schools are funded the same amount of money as public school are. So they are not private schools with tuition fees like in many other countries.

These schools are run by a foundation (stichting) or association (vereniging) that can have multiple schools.

Private schools (privé-scholen)
Private schools have much more freedom in how they are run. Only the quality of education in checked by the government.

Thank you for the various replies. I think that operator might be the best option for the UK. I had felt that federations didn’t quite work like operators, but more like a partnership, but the operator tag is probably still best to represent that.

From what I’ve seen, trusts have differing levels of obvious involvement in schools. Sometimes when a trust takes over, the name, uniform, colour scheme, teaching style etc. are all completely changed (and so brand might almost be appropriate). But sometimes you might go to a school and not be able to tell it’s part of a bigger group.

I think I will (at some point) move school:trust:name and school:federation:name to operator, and maybe remove the other two, as anyone interested would be best to query it from the Department of Education, using ref:edubase

Perhaps you haven’t encountered the huge industry of for-profit universities, charter school chains (contractors of public school districts), and heavily branded Kindergarten chains in the U.S. :business_suit_levitating: This is what the nonprofits are up against; of course they have branding strategies all the same.

This sounds functionally similar to what we’d call a “school network” in the U.S., although here they’re usually structured as an informal membership association or league rather than something that can “take over”. Sometimes these networks also serve as accrediting organizations; that’s how they’d enforce standards like uniforms.

I’ve refrained from tagging unbranded school networks, figuring that Wikidata can better convey affiliation with an arbitrary number of associations. I’ve also tended to make operator and operator:wikidata as specific as possible, allowing Wikidata to describe the nuanced organizational relationships between departments and agencies.

In Croatia in more rural areas, we have schools which are made out of several smaller schools, and the main school. The main school always has 8 grades (isced:level=1;2), and the smaller schools usually only have 4 grades (isced:level=1). Then older pupils have to travel to the main school to finish their basic education.

I had to group them somehow, and we opted for using the operator=* tag. The main school is recognized to be main when it has the same operator=* and name=* tags. The smaller schools have those tags different, but their operator is the same as their main school.

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